Visualizing Orbitals in Atoms

Moderators: Chem_Mod, Chem_Admin

Ashley Zhu 1A
Posts: 69
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:16 am

Visualizing Orbitals in Atoms

Postby Ashley Zhu 1A » Fri Sep 28, 2018 5:00 pm

I know we haven't talked about this in class yet, but I was doing some basic chemistry review for a life science class and a problem came up for me about orbitals in atoms. A hydrogen atom is simple enough for visualizing--just a spherical shape for the one s-orbital. But for aluminum, would there be three spheres, each being larger than the last, for three s-orbitals since aluminum is 3s^2?

MaanasO 1A
Posts: 72
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:26 am

Re: Visualizing Orbitals in Atoms

Postby MaanasO 1A » Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:45 pm

Hi Ashley!

So from my understanding of orbitals, they represent the probable region of locations an electron can be found at a given time. Electrons with lower energies move a smaller distance away from the nucleus. So as the energy increases, the size of the orbital as well, since the electron has more energy to expend while moving away. 1s, 2s, 3s, etc, all are spheres with increasing radii. The p orbitals increase in size as well as we go from 2p to 3p and so on. For aluminum, we have an electron configuration 1s2, 2s2 2p6, 3s2 3p1. If we are just looking at the probabilistic models of electron positions as pure solids, then there would be 3 concentric spheres of different sizes, and 4 dumbbell-shaped volumes. The 4 p-orbitals are along 3 axes, the x, y, z-axes. So each axis would have 1 p-orbital, and one axis would contain 2 different-sized p orbitals.

Long story short, it looks really weird.

Much joy!

Ashley Zhu 1A
Posts: 69
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:16 am

Re: Visualizing Orbitals in Atoms

Postby Ashley Zhu 1A » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:49 pm

Thank you, that was a great explanation!

Angel Chen 2k
Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:20 am

Re: Visualizing Orbitals in Atoms

Postby Angel Chen 2k » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:00 pm

Orbitals are actually the regions where we can possibly find electrons. In contrast to the "circle orbitals" we usually refer to, the orbitals in chemistry are more likely to be three-dimensional regions. More specially, s orbital is like a sphere, while p orbital is like a double-headed lobe. We can match the electrons number with specific orbitals. With the help of atomic orbitals, we can also write the electronic configuration for different atoms.


Return to “Wave Functions and s-, p-, d-, f- Orbitals”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest